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James Meehan - Is Jesus Worth Following?

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    James Meehan - Is Jesus Worth Following?

Well, if life was a test, there would certainly be a whole lot of questions on that test, questions about like what are you gonna do for a living? Where are you gonna live? What school are you gonna go to? Who are you going to marry? Who will your friends be? Are you a PlayStation or an Xbox person? Are you a real gamer or do you just play Fortnite? All sorts of questions like that. But there would be one question on that test that is so important. It is worth so many points that if you got this question right and every other question wrong, you would pass the test. But on the flip side, if you got every other question right, but you got this question wrong, you would fail the test.

Now, the good news is it is a multiple choice question and I am about to tell you the answer to the question. So here's what the question would be. The question would be, who are you following? Who are you following? Two choices, A, Jesus, B, anyone else. And those are the only two choices because like truly in life, you are either following Jesus, the son of God, the author of eternity, the one who came on this Earth, died on a cross and rose again so that we can be made right with God or you're not. You're following somebody else. And if you are following Jesus, if you trust him with your whole life, if you give him your very best, then he will change your life, and he will give you eternity with him, and his heavenly Father. But anyone else won't.

That's why as we kick off this message series, "Big Questions, Honest Answers," the question that we are going to answer today that I am going to do my best to answer honestly for you is why is Jesus worth following? Why is Jesus worth following? And now we could talk for like weeks and weeks and weeks and months and months and months and years and years and years. If you've been a part of Switch, you know that's actually what we do every week is give you more and more reasons to trust and follow Jesus because we're convinced that life is better with Jesus and Jesus changes everything for the better. But I can only give you so much in a single message.

So make sure that you are taking notes and you are following along. Now, if you are taking notes, I'm gonna give you right now the answer to the question, the question why is Jesus worth following? The answer is because the good news of Jesus is truer, it is better and it is more beautiful than anything else this world has to offer. The good news of Jesus is truer. It is all truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is better. More lives have been changed, the world different for the better, more because of Jesus than any other figure in history. And it is more beautiful. The meaning, the purpose, the joy, the wonder that comes from walking with Jesus is better than anything else this world has to offer.

Now, like I said, I do not have time to get into every single reason why the good news of Jesus is true or good or beautiful. But what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna give you one reason for each of those three qualities, the good, the true, and the beautiful. So make sure you are taking notes and following along 'cause we're gonna cover a lot, starting with point number one. Jesus is worth following because the good news of Jesus is true. It is true. Question for you, how many of you would willingly die defending a lie? How many of you would willingly die defending a lie?

Now, I can guarantee you, if your hand is going up right now, you are lying. And if you had to choose between admitting the truth or dying, you would admit that you were lying because none of us are dumb enough to die defending a lie. Like, when I was in high school, my older sister, Allie, love her, threw a party while my parents were away. And let's just say things got like way out of hand. There were cars parked all the way down the street, the noise was way too loud. And after everything was said and done, there were cups and bottles everywhere, front yard, backyard, living room, kitchen, bathroom, everywhere. And during this whole fiasco, I was upstairs in my room playing "Call of Duty" with my friends.

So it's like all happening but I'm not engaging because you know, I'm a good kid. But then all of a sudden, the next day hits. My parents are coming home early, my sister panics because she knows there's no way on her own she can clean it all up and cover it up before they get back. So what does she do? She tries to recruit me, she tries to get me in on the lie and at first, I'm like there for her, she's my family, I got her back, she's got mine. So I'm helping clean up all this stuff. But as the time gets closer to my parents' return, it becomes abundantly obvious that we did a horrible job of covering the evidence. So when my parents get home, they ask the question, "Hey did y'all have a party"? And my sister looks them dead in the eye and says, "No, it wasn't a party. I mean, I had a couple of friends over, but just a few of us. There was no party".

Now, mind you, my parents like knew all of our neighbors and my neighbors had already told my parents what had happened, but my sister is not giving in. But then my parents look at me and they said, "Hey, James, was there a party that happened? And James, here's the thing, if you tell us the truth, then you won't get in any trouble. But if you don't and we find out you are lying, then no Xbox for a month". Now you better believe I caved in a second, right? I was like, "There was a party, I was not involved, I was upstairs. Please don't take my Xbox away". Why? Because I'm not gonna give up my Xbox defending a lie.

Now, why do I tell you all of this? Because the earliest followers of Jesus we're so convinced that Jesus is the son of God, that he died and rose again, that he literally rose from the grave that when it came down to it and they were given the option to either die believing in Jesus or deny Jesus and walk away with their lives, they chose death. They chose to give up their lives for their faith. And then now here's the thing, it's like totally different to die for something you believe is true but may not actually be true, like that's one thing. But these were the people who were actually there when it all happened. These were the people who got to see Jesus with their own eyes.

So it's not just that they were dying because of what somebody had told them, they were dying because of what they had seen first hand. One of those people was a guy named the apostle Paul. And what's wild about Paul is that before he became a Christian, before he started planting churches and writing letters that would make their way into our Bibles today, he was literally hunting down Christians because he was so convinced that Jesus was not the son of God, that he wanted to stamp out Christianity. But then Jesus met him and changed his life forever.

And about 20 years after that life-changing moment, the apostle Paul wrote a letter called 1 Corinthians. You can find this in your Bible where he writes these words. He says, "Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel, the good news that I preach to you which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel, the good news of Jesus, you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preach to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain for what I received, I passed onto you as of first importance. This is what matters most: that Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures".

And now get this. "And that he appeared to Cephas," that's Peter. "And then to the 12," next slide. "After that he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living though some have fallen asleep," like some of 'em have died, but most of them are still around. "So if you don't believe me, if you don't believe Peter, if you don't believe the 12 disciples, go ask one of the 500 who saw it and then just to go the extra mile, he appeared to James, then to all of the apostles. And last of all, he appeared to me, the apostle Paul, as to one abnormally born".

The apostle Paul is writing this letter for a couple of reasons. One of them, a big reason, is because the apostle Paul wants everybody who comes after him to know and believe what he has seen. And that is that Jesus is the son of God who died and rose again to save us from our sins. Jesus is the son of God who died and rose again to save us from our sins. The second reason he's writing this is because he wants to make sure everybody knows that all this stuff about Jesus being the son of God and rising from the dead didn't come from some lone hippie who wandered off by himself into the woods and then came back describing this radical spiritual experience.

Christianity is not based on something that is simply personal and spiritual. It is based on something that is historical, and it was visible: the risen Jesus coming back from the dead, appearing to hundreds of people. So convinced were they that they wrote it down, they told people about it and they went to the death claiming, defending, standing on the good news that Jesus is the son of God who died and rose again to save us from our sins. So I don't know about you, but I'm not even willing to get grounded from Xbox for a month to defend a lie, let alone die for something that I know is a lie. And neither were they. They saw him, they spent time with him and they believed him to the very core of who they were.

Why is Jesus worth following? Jesus is worth following because the good news of Jesus is true and Jesus is worth following because the good news of Jesus is good. Like, it's good news. We say that for a reason. It's good because it makes things better. It's news because it actually happened. And once again, there's like 1,000 examples I could give of how the good news of Jesus changed everything for the better because when Jesus stepped onto the stage of history 2,000 years ago, he flipped the world upside down in the best way possible. Like, if you just back the last 2,000 years, there is nobody and there is nothing that has done more good for more people than the good news of Jesus. There is nothing and nobody that has changed more lives than Jesus.

Now, what's interesting is like all of that totally makes sense because what Jesus said he was here to announce. At the beginning of his ministry, in Mark 1, we read this, that Jesus, he came preaching God's good news. He came to preach God's good news. Here's what he said, "That the time promised by God has come at last. The kingdom of God is near so repent of your sins and believe the good news". He wanted everybody to know that the thing that we've all been waiting for, for the God of heaven, to make all the things that are broken right, to put them back together, it's happening right now. It's happening because of me and all of you, you can be a part of it if you'll simply trust and follow me.

Now, we're not gonna talk about everything 'cause if we did, we'd have to talk about science and medicine and education and human rights and government and personal liberty and all of these other things. We can't cover all of it. But what I do wanna talk about is the way the good news of Jesus motivated people for the last 2,000 years to fight against the injustice of slavery. So you may not know this, but in the ancient world, slavery was normal and it was considered necessary. Like for them, slavery was thought of the same way that we think of electricity. Like, it's so common that most of us don't think about it. Like, it is so normal for just making everyday things happen that the only time we think about it is when it stops working.

That's how normal slavery was for them because before Jesus, they didn't deal with all of the moral questions about is it actually wrong to own another human being? Because before Jesus, the world was very much a survival of the fittest kind of place where whoever has the might gets to decide what's right. Like, if you have the power, then you are the man or woman of the hour. And if you were rich enough, powerful enough, strong enough, smart enough to own slaves, then they believed that that was your right. And if you were weak enough, poor enough, whatever enough to be owned as a slave, then that's just the way the world works.

But then Jesus showed up and he introduced us to this beautiful truth that we are so much more than just simply people going through the motions, that we are actually God's masterpiece, created for life and purpose, created for love and joy, created for so much more than just going through the motions. And because of the movement that Jesus launched, for the last 2,000 years across the globe, there have been faithful followers of Jesus fighting on the front lines against slavery because of their faith in Jesus because of how Jesus rescued them from the bondage of sin. They see it as their duty to go and help other people find the same freedom that he gave to them.

And this could be people like William Wilberforce, who if you don't know was the politician who led the attack against the slave trade in England. It could be people like Martin Luther King Jr. who led the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States of America. And it could be people like Jade. Jade is a middle school student at Switch in North Denver. And when she heard about the injustice of modern-day slavery, she knew that she needed to do something. So she did what she could. She started a lemonade stand and over the course of a weekend, she sold lemonade to anybody who drove by. And over the course of a weekend, she raised $132 and she gave every single penny to fight against human trafficking. Why? Because she knows how much Jesus has changed her and she wants to be a part of doing good for others.

And you can do the same as her. You can be a part of God's good plan for the world. And maybe like Jade, you just do what you can. You just start small. You do what you can with what you have right where you are. And when all of us bring our little pieces together, God does something really, really big. Why is Jesus worth following? Jesus is worth following because the good news of Jesus is true, it's good and the good news of Jesus is beautiful. It is beautiful. There's a guy, Saint Augustine who wrote these words. He said that "to fall in love with God is the greatest romance, to seek him, the greatest adventure, to find him, the greatest human achievement".

You see, he recognized what so many of us have discovered as followers of Jesus, that we were actually created for life with God, that all the things that we long for as human beings, that we go through our lives searching for can only fully be found in a relationship with Jesus because we're literally like hardwired by God, it is woven into our DNA to be in relationship, to make a difference, to have a people that we can call our own. And that is exactly what Jesus is inviting us all into: a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. Life and relationship with a God who is love and the ability to do for others what we could never do in our own strength.

This is what he wants you to be a part of. This is part of what makes the good news so beautiful. In Matthew 4, when Jesus called his first disciples, he said, "Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Follow me". Come to Jesus and he will make you into something that you are not yet. He will transform you from the inside out until you become a person who is actually capable of doing what Jesus does, going where Jesus goes, trusting what Jesus says and learning to love others the same way that Jesus has loved you. He is inviting you into transformation. He's inviting you into becoming the person that you were always meant to be. And when that happens, let me tell you something, it is beautiful because your life used to be defined by all sorts of icky stuff, like anger and jealousy and bitterness and anxiety, all of those things that none of us want.

But as we walk with Jesus, step by step, little by little, he transforms us into people of love who are full of joy, who are kind, who are patient, who are gentle, who are courageous, who can do what we could not do before. This is the invitation of Jesus. This is what all of us were created for. Why is Jesus worth following? He's worth following because his good news is truer, it is better and it is more beautiful than anything else this world can offer. So now what? What do we do with all of that? Put simply, follow Jesus and trust that life with him really is better than anything. Follow Jesus and trust that life with him really is better than anything. Or in the language of Jesus from that scripture we read earlier, repent and believe, repent, change your life. Follow Jesus and believe the good news. Trust that life with him is better than anything.

Now, because I'm a Bible nerd, I have always wondered the question, why does Jesus say repent first and believe second? Because like it just kind of makes more sense that you would believe it first and then you would take the action second. But this is why I think Jesus is so brilliant because he understands that you will never actually believe how good his good news is until you follow him and get to see it for yourself. It's kind of like you will never know if you really love that person enough to marry them until you actually go on some dates with them. Like, you will never know if they are the person for you and you're the person for them if you just look at them from a distance. Like, before you really get to know them, you might be interested in them, you might be attracted to them. You might think they're really, really cool and that maybe you would be a good fit. But until you go on the first date, it is all just in your head.

Now, for me and my wife, before I met her, I was young and dumb enough to be convinced that, oh yeah, this is the girl that I'm gonna marry. Like, I was very interested in her and as naive as I was, I thought, oh yeah, for sure. What I'm feeling towards her is really love. Like that must be what love is. These strong feelings. That was not love. That was something else. But that's a different sermon. Now, my wife, she was wise enough to be skeptical. She took it slow, one day at a time. And slowly as we got to know each other, as we got to spend time with each other, she eventually became convinced. She started to believe that we should get married. And I'm telling you this because in the same way that you will never know if that person is the person you should marry until you actually get to know them. You will never believe how good the good news of Jesus is until you actually start following him.

So follow Jesus and you'll begin to see just how true, good and beautiful life with him is. Follow Jesus and he will give you all the reasons you could ask to trust that life with him really is better than anything. If you wait until every question is answered before you follow him, you're gonna be waiting for a really long time. But if you decide to follow him, then he will show you the answers to the most important questions. He will lead you in life's greatest adventure. Why is Jesus worth following? Jesus is worth following because his good news is truer, it is better and it is more beautiful than anything else this world has to offer. And if you follow and trust in him, you will discover the truth of the words he spoke in John 10:10 when he said that "my purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life".

So Lord Jesus, we come before you right now, thankful for how much you have done for us, grateful for all the ways that you have changed our lives and you have changed our world. So God, help us today to follow you with our very best, to trust you with all that we have, so that as we do, we can see for ourselves how true, good and beautiful life with you really is. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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